Visa for digital nomads by end Oct.

The proposed digital nomad visa is to be implemented by the end of October, according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). 

The groundwork for the implementation of this digital nomad programme is currently being done and the SLTDA is in discussion with the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Department of Immigration and Emigration, it is learnt.

Sources within the Ministry of Tourism stated to The Morning Business earlier, that the Government of Sri Lanka took the decision to attract “digital nomads” with long-term one-year visas, as it is a fast-growing segment within the global travel and tourism industry, and that “according to the cabinet paper, the proposed visa fee will be $ 600 for such tourists”. 

In June 2021, French travel and tourism operator Club Med ranked Sri Lanka as the second-best destination for digital nomads in 2021, after Thailand.

This pushed the Government to come up with a digital nomad programme, which received cabinet approval in July 2021. The proposal by Minister of Tourism Prasanna Ranatunga was to launch a promotional programme by the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) in a bid to attract digital tourists to the country and to introduce a long-term visa category for digital tourists.

According to SLTDA Director General Dhammika Wijesinghe, this digital nomad programme will look to attract working professionals, ranging from medium to high-end tourists with permanent jobs in a foreign country that could be done remotely.

Wijesinghe further stated that initially, a visa for one year would be issued to people who are eligible for the digital nomad programme.

When applying for a nomad visa, she noted, a special security clearance should be obtained from individuals from Sri Lankan embassies in their respective countries, apart from the application for the visa.

Further, she said that other things required from an individual include proof of a permanent job and bank statements to prove their income.

Digital tourism is a novel method of travel that was created owing to the pandemic situation affecting the globe. Digital tourists – referred to more commonly as digital nomads – often stay in public libraries or cafes to provide their services online. Thus, these tourists are attracted to long-term visas, high-speed internet connections for communication, affordable accommodation, tax exemption for earnings, etc., which are some of the elements the Government is utilising to lure tourists. 
The digital nomad concept was established out of the need to “work from anywhere” post pandemic.

Many tourist attractions such as Thailand’s Chiang Mai, Portugal’s Lisbon, Colombia’s Medellín, and Indonesia’s Bali have taken strenuous steps to promote digital tourism. The Ministry of Tourism hopes that Sri Lanka will soon be among the top favourites for digital tourists. 

This form of tourism is attractive to Sri Lanka due to its potential to attract high-end tourists to the country, because although Sri Lanka is a famous tourist destination, statistics state that the majority of tourists visiting Sri Lanka are backpackers with a weekly budget under $ 500.